OCD Treatment: What are My Options?

Although most people will have heard of OCD, many do not really understand what it is, leading to some misconceptions. This article gives you an overview of what OCD is and what types of OCD treatment are available to you.

OCD Definition

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more commonly referred to as OCD. To receive a diagnosis of OCD, someone would need to experience obsessions and compulsions.

An obsession is defined as certain urges, or thoughts, or images that you experience frequently and which you struggle to avoid thinking about. Obsessions are unwanted, and they also cause a great deal of both distress and anxiety when you experience them.

When someone experiences the intrusive thoughts, images and urges associated with OCD, they try to disregard them, subdue them or in some way neutralize them by replacing them with a different thought or behavior.

For example, someone with OCD may be consumed by anxiety associated with the thought that they are going to be involved in an automobile accident, or that some tragedy will affect someone they care about.

The replacement actions that someone with OCD uses to neutralize their obsessive thinking are known as compulsions. Examples of compulsions include types of repetitive actions or mental acts. Someone with OCD may repeatedly wash their hands, or be compelled to clean the house constantly or check several times that doors and windows are locked.

Examples of mental acts that are part of OCD include repetitive prayers, repeating words over and over, and counting. Mental and behavioral compulsions are controlled by the obsession that the person has or by certain rules that they believe they have to follow strictly. The person uses the compulsions as a means of reducing anxiety levels or preventing anxiety entirely, or, in some cases, as a means of preventing some awful tragedy from occurring.

The important thing you need to understand about the compulsions is that they are not based on logical or realistic thinking. An example that illustrates this is the way that someone with OCD may be compelled to switch the light on and off three times every single time they leave a room because they believe that this will prevent their house from catching fire.

To meet the diagnosis of OCD, obsessions and compulsions must consume a lot of time – specifically more than one hour each day – as well as have a profound effect on the person’s ability to function normally.

Someone who only experiences obsessions without compulsions, or compulsions without obsessions, or otherwise doesn’t meet the diagnostic criteria, so it is unlikely that they have OCD. They may, however, have another mental health condition. When mental health professionals perform diagnostic interviews, they use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) to differentiate between different mental health disorders.

The DSM contains different diagnoses for each mental health condition; these are helpful suggestions that the mental health professional can use in deciding which diagnosis to make. Other diagnoses, for example, may more closely match what a person is experiencing, or there may be conditions that have very similar symptoms. With OCD, the specific differential diagnoses that the DSM suggests include major depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, psychotic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Although anxiety is a part of OCD, anxiety disorders, including phobias and social anxiety disorder, can be differentiated from OCD because they tend to focus much more on fears of places, situations, and objects, and avoiding the feared things is the means by which they hope to reduce anxiety. There are also other types of obsessive-compulsive type disorders that do not meet the criteria for OCD.

These include body dysmorphic disorder – in which obsessions and compulsions are centered only around physical appearance, trichotillomania – where the compulsion is pulling out hair, and hoarding – in which a person experiences distress concerned with discarding items, even broken items.

Psychotic disorders that involve delusional thoughts and poor insight into the psychosis can resemble OCD but can be differentiated from OCD due to additional psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. Compulsive-like behaviors, such as addictions to substances, can appear to be compulsions, but substance abuse is something which people find pleasurable, whereas OCD is driven by anxiety and distress.

Although obsessive-compulsive personality disorder sounds close to OCD, it presents in an entirely different way. Instead of intrusive thinking and urges, and repetitive behavior, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves dysfunctional levels of perfectionism and strict control over life.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

Physical symptoms form a part of the presentation of OCD. These include compulsions, ritualistic actions, repeating words, agitation, impulsive actions, and isolating from others. Compulsions can present in a variety of different ways, but these tend to be consistent (the person’s compulsions do not change over time). Compulsions are always, in the mind of the person at least, means of alleviating anxiety.

Someone who has OCD will tend to become agitated if, for any reason, they are prevented from completing the compulsive behavior or mental action. OCD can also be apparent in people who hoard things – but in the case of hoarding, there must be distorted beliefs involved, such as thinking that a tragedy will occur if they have to throw something away.

While social isolation is a common symptom of a number of different mental health conditions, it is also a physical sign of OCD. For example, someone with OCD may isolate themselves socially due to obsessive thoughts about catastrophic events happening if they go outside or travel anywhere. This aspect of OCD can lead to depression in addition to OCD.

People with OCD tend to experience certain mood states more than others. Anxiety, of course, is the primary mood that leads to the compulsions, but anxiety can increase when something happens to prevent a compulsion being completed. This anxiety is usually severe and disabling, and may manifest in both physical and psychological symptoms.

Anxiety associated with OCD can prevent the person from doing the things associated with normal life, including holding down a job, going out for a walk, and even leaving their home. When anxiety is persistent, it can cause panic attacks, especially when a person with OCD cannot complete their compulsive actions.

Guilt is another common problem for people with OCD. For example, a person who has the obsessive belief that their father will become sick if they don’t speak to him every single day will experience guilt if, for whatever reason, they cannot call their father one day and he becomes sick. They will believe, however irrationally, that they are to blame.

In psychological terms, people who have OCD are affected by depression and intrusive thoughts that they believe they have no control over. While other symptoms of OCD are more obvious to others, these psychological symptoms are less discernible because they are internal.

That being said, internal feelings can emerge as behaviors such as anger or agitation. When someone with OCD is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that they feel supported and able to discuss their struggles with friends and family.

What Can I Do About OCD?

If you think that you may be suffering from OCD, it’s best to speak to your doctor about it. Talking with your doctor about the symptoms that you’re experiencing and the way that you are feeling can help you to begin the process of managing your condition.

You may want to discuss with your doctor whether it would be helpful for you to be referred to a psychiatrist. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a therapist who is experienced in working with people who have OCD. Seeing a therapist can be beneficial for helping you manage symptoms and giving you tools to help you cope better with daily life. Another option that can help you is joining a support group, where you can discuss your struggles with other people who experience symptoms of OCD.

Parents of children who have, or are suspected of having, OCD need to offer non-judgemental support to their child, and do their best to try to understand the struggles that their child is experiencing.

You need to understand the levels of anxiety that your child is dealing with, and also appreciate that the obsessions they have may be difficult for them to put into words. While their behaviors may seem irrational and frustrating to you, remember that OCD is a mental illness that your child is not in control of.

You need to be patient with your child and help them to express how they feel about the things that are causing them anxiety. If you suspect your child is experiencing OCD, you should seek help as soon as possible.

Early intervention can give you and your child the support you need to better cope with the symptoms of OCD. Taking your child to a psychiatrist or pediatrician is one means of early intervention; another is to seek the help of a therapist who works with children with OCD.

You should look for a child therapist who has experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). These therapeutic interventions have been shown to be most effective for OCD.

Teachers who observe behaviors and other symptoms that may suggest OCD can discuss their concerns with the school psychologist, who will be able to begin a process of getting help for the child who is struggling.

It is important to remember that a child with OCD isn’t being deliberately disruptive in class, and you should be patient and supportive when dealing with behaviors associated with OCD. The school psychologist should be able to give you guidance on how best to respond to the child with OCD.

What OCD Treatment Options are Recommended?

There are several different OCD treatment options that are commonly used to help manage the symptoms of OCD. These are Evidence Based Treatments (EBT) that have been proven to be effective for people with OCD. The two major OCD treatment methods are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). These are often used in con junction with support groups.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aims to challenge maladaptive thinking patterns and help people to change the way that they feel and behave. For OCD, CBT is effective because it can directly challenge the obsessions that are illogical and irrational. By changing thoughts from the irrational to the rational, people with OCD experience changes in the way that they feel and may not feel so controlled by their behaviors and compulsions.

Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP) is a process by which therapists who have trained in ERP techniques will effectively expose their client to a situation or object that normally causes anxiety and help their client to respond in a different manner – i.e. to respond without engaging in the compulsions. ERP is a treatment that takes time as it can only be done in small increments after the person has developed techniques to control their anxiety.

For example, in a situation where a person believes that if they don’t back in and out of their parking spot three times before they turn off the engine, they will kill someone on their next journey, ERP would first focus on giving the person a range of coping skills.

Then, the therapist would start with something small such as starting the car and then turning it off again without going anywhere. Starting small like this gives the therapist the opportunity to assess anxiety levels and to reinforce the coping skills in order to bring anxiety levels down to a manageable point. In small increments thereafter, the therapist will aim to get the person to be able to pull into a parking spot and immediately turn off the car.

Support groups provide people with OCD the opportunity to meet with other people who understand their difficulties and help them to realise that they are not alone in what they experience. Another benefit is being able to learn coping skills and to have hope for better levels of functioning by seeing how others are better able to manage their symptoms.

Although therapeutic treatments are the most effective for OCD, medication is also an option that can be discussed with your doctor or psychiatrist. Medication is not right for everyone, and your doctor will take individual factors into consideration before prescribing.

Now What?

If you are looking for help in managing your OCD, or are worried about someone close to you who is struggling with OCD symptoms, it is advisable that you consult a doctor who can put you in touch with a therapist experienced in treating OCD. The road to healing is much easier when it is walked in conjunction with a trained professional.

A Christian counselor can help you to heal and be transformed, in conjunction with both God’s presence and your own efforts to challenge your thinking. Secular therapists can also help if you’re not able to work with a Christian counselor due to insurance restrictions. If you’re unsure what your insurance will cover, your provider will be able to give you a list of approved therapists.

Many Christian therapists will offer a risk-free initial consultation, and when you are looking for the right therapist for you, it can be helpful to make several risk-free appointments with different therapists so you can find the therapist you are most comfortable with.

Photos:
“OCD”, Courtesy of Airpix, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Venetian Blinds”, Courtesy of Sheila Tostes, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Day 021” Courtesy of Holly Lay, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Sunbeam Landscape”, Courtesy of Lars Nissen Photoart, Pixabay.com, CC0 License

How Forgiving Others Can Positively Affect Your Mental Health

Why is forgiving others so hard to do? How can forgiving others benefit the person who is forgiving? Learn more in this article about forgiveness and mental health.

Forgiving Others from the Heart

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Forgiving others is very hard to do in this day and age. Nowadays, society emphasizes much the love of self, encouraging people to always stand up for themselves.

While this is good to an extent, as abuse and other forms of injustice should never be tolerated, it has also made it increasingly difficult for people to forgive as they believe that they need to protect their personal honor, even if it is just a minor slight.

Sadly, when one is unable to forgive, the hurt and pain linger in the mind, affecting a person in many different ways. Though contrary to the ways of the world, biblically, forgiveness is something everyone should strive to do, for their own sake and others.

The Effects of Not Forgiving Others from the Heart

Lots of people today continue to hold on to their hurts. Some claim the bitter memories serve as motivation to become better than whoever stepped on them in the past. Others choose not to forget so that they can truly savor their triumph when they defeat their rival. And then there are those who cannot forget and forgive as their past trauma continues to haunt them and stir up hateful thoughts.

Regardless of the reason, harboring such negativity can really take a toll on a person. Mentally, such bitterness just adds to a person’s daily stress, affecting one’s concentration and even memory. It can also lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

This can also be felt physically. The stress of recalling past hurts lowers the body’s immune system, making a person more susceptible to sickness. There may also be daily body pains (e.g. headaches, muscle aches) and difficulty sleeping or eating.

Relationally, the past pain affects a person’s bond with those who have slighted them – be they colleague, friend, or family member – preventing the relationship from growing stronger. Such hurt can also cause additional problems as the bitter memory may hinder a person from widening their social circle or becoming intimate once more (e.g. fear of loving again).

Moreover, this bitterness affects a person spiritually as this hate for our brother or sister-in-Christ is directly against what God wants us to do, which is to forgive. Because of this, the person may choose to avoid spiritual activities, like praying or going to church, believing they are no longer worthy of God’s love.

Misconceptions and Clarifications about Forgiving Others

Many times people do not forgive because of their misunderstandings about forgiveness. These, however, need to be corrected for the person’s sake and for others.

Misconception 1: Forgiveness excuses the offender

One wrong idea is that forgiving means condoning the offender’s actions or behavior. Not only does the offender get a free pass, but it also makes the victim feel powerless about the incident. Since no one wishes to feel that way, the person continues to feed their anger – through negative thoughts and even actions (e.g. backbiting) – which may make them feel more in control of the situation.

The Clarification:

Forgiveness, however, never means approving the wrongs done, as everyone should be loved and respected. Instead, forgiveness means NOT allowing the past hurt to have a hold on one’s life. As earlier mentioned, the more such bitterness lingers in the mind, the more the person suffers internally, and even physically. But when a person forgives, the mental and spiritual burden is lifted, allowing them to feel at peace once more. It may also heal a lot of physical ailments.

Misconception 2: Forgiveness means granting legal mercy

For victims of crime or abuse, it can be difficult to forgive as they mistakenly think it means allowing the offender to escape punishment. As there may be a fear of possible retribution or future harm to someone else, forgiveness for many is often out of the question.

The Clarification:

For legal matters, forgiveness does NOT mean pardoning someone of the crime. For the public’s safety or for the recovery of resources, legal proceedings should generally continue on (with possible exceptions if it really is a very minor matter). Again, the point of forgiving someone, even one who has caused much pain to a person or their family, is to free up the mind and spirit so that the person can live normally again.

Forgiveness here also means treating the offender with dignity and compassion, even if the crime was grave. If not, then a person may become prejudiced against similar offenders or even suspected offenders in the future.

Misconception 3: Forgiveness means reconciliation, even if you do not want to

Others choose not to forgive because they believe it means they have to reconcile with the other, even if they do not want to. For former sweethearts, this may be a big no-no as they have already found someone else or they have already realized they were not meant to be. For business partners, this may be seen as a useless endeavor as there may be no point of working together again.

The Clarification:

Choosing to forgive does NOT mean one has to always get back together again. In situations like exes or business dealings gone sour, it really is not logical to do this. As in the first two misconceptions, forgiveness here is to stem the spread of internal negativity, lest a person continue to hold back in future relationships with others. Forgiveness also means still respecting the rights of the one who hurt them to prevent other untoward incidences from occurring (e.g. defaming the offender or other acts of revenge).

It should be noted, however, that in family matters, particularly when the issue is between spouses or children, reconciliation should generally be the goal for the family to properly function once more.

Misconception 4: Forgiveness means forgetting what happened

Another misconception is that forgiveness means erasing one’s mind of the incident. However, with our God-given minds, it can be very difficult to simply forget. And if the experience was particularly painful, most really do not want to forget to prevent similar future mistakes.

The Clarification:

Forgiveness NEVER means forgetting the painful lessons of the past. If this were to happen, then definitely history would repeat itself. People are meant to remember past experiences to prevent the bad ones from occurring again. Choosing to forgive the bad that has happened allows the person to appreciate the present and positively move forward, rather than always wallowing in the past.

The Phases of Forgiveness Therapy

Despite the very clear benefits of forgiveness, it can really be difficult to forgive. A person’s natural instinct is to protect themselves which makes it hard to let go of the negative emotions. Fortunately, there is a four-step method to work towards forgiveness.

The Uncovering Phase

In the uncovering phase, the one offended objectively views the transgression to see how it has affected their life. Has it disrupted many key areas in their life? Have they changed for the worse because of it?

By doing this, the person may begin to understand the results of an unforgiving heart in their life. Once understood, the individual may then begin the necessary steps to overcome its effects.

The Decision Phase

In the next stage of therapy, the person is taught more about the nuances of forgiveness. Proper knowledge of this allows the person to truly decide if and when they decide to forgive.

But as in many big decisions in life, people may need more time before they can forgive and move forward, and that is alright. This stage may be revisited later on once the person has had more time to reflect.

The Work Phase

In this phase, the offended person is asked to understand the perspective of the offender: What was their past like? What might have been their motivation for the transgression? The hope here is that the person’s heart will begin to change as they are able to comprehend the reasons behind what had happened.

The Deepening Phase

In the final phase, the person is asked to find new meaning in the experience. Instead of simply thinking of themselves as a hapless victim, they are encouraged to identify the positive changes that have occurred. Did they become more loving? Are they stronger now or more confident?

By acknowledging the positive growth in their life because of what had occurred, it may become possible to finally forgive.

Understanding God’s Forgiveness

Despite the availability of such therapeutic steps, many still have difficulty learning how to truly let go and forgive without dreaming of vengeance in their unguarded moments. This is because of mankind’s sinful nature that seeks self-protection and the uplifting of self.

Real forgiveness, where the spirit is at peace, cannot truly be understood without knowing Jesus Christ. The way He lived on earth, obeying the Father while humbly showing his disciples how to live and love, is the best example of what it means to be human. And the way He died for us, even if we did not deserve such a sacrifice, is the perfect model for forgiveness.

If a person wants to be able to let go of the past hurts that are holding them back, they need the love of Christ in their life. And this can only be done by intentionally getting to know Him through prayer and the reading of Scripture.

Seeking Christian Counseling for Forgiveness

In Christian counseling, the latest counseling methods will be used to help the individual better understand what had happened, their current emotional state, and the effects on their life. They will then be taught what can be done to positively change their perspective so they can forgive.

But most importantly, the person will be introduced to the love and mercy of God through prayer and Scripture. By knowing more about Jesus’ compassion for sinners (of which we all fall under), the person will be able to truly understand what forgiveness entails, allowing them to have true internal peace.

If you or a friend is having difficulty forgiving others, seek professional help soon. God is asking you to forgive so that you can experience life to the fullest.

Photos:
“Forgiveness”, Courtesy of Felix Koutchinski, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Empty Hands”, Courtesy of Jeremy Yap, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hand Across the Water”, Courtesy of Lukas, Pexels.com; CC0 License; “Touch of the Other World”, Courtesy of Akshay Paatil, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Signs of Emotional Abuse: How to Respond

Many people in the United States will have experienced emotional abuse or know someone who has endured it. Although emotional abuse is something that people are often reluctant to talk about, it really is quite pervasive.

In the past, the things that are now considered to be emotionally abusive would never have been recognized as being problematic, but now the emotional impact of words and actions are much better understood.

It’s important to draw a distinction between someone who is an emotional abuser and a person who says or does emotionally abusive things. To be clear, an emotional abuser intentionally and continually seeks to hurt, undermine or manipulate other people.

By contrast, everyone has the ability to say or do something that can be considered to be emotionally abusive in a certain situation – but unless they do this continually, this is not the same as being an emotional abuser.

While, as human beings, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, a majority of people will repent of their actions and seek to repair the damage done. However, a minority fall into a category of people who repeatedly hurt others and deliberately destroy relationships with people. Unfortunately, these types of people are rarely able to change for the better.

Emotional abuse can happen in a range of different relationships: romantic, parental, siblings, friendships, colleagues, and in church communities. It is not limited to specific demographics or locations – potentially anyone can either abuse or be abused emotionally.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

The exact signs of emotional abuse vary from person to person, but there are common characteristics for each of the types of relationship context the abuse occurs. It can be helpful for you to consider which of these types of abuse you most relate to, as well as to reflect on whether you may have used these behaviors yourself in your relationships.

Neglect as a Type of Abuse

Parents who are physically neglectful of their children, through withholding interaction, for example, are being emotionally abusive. It is also possible for people to neglect their children and other family members emotionally, by refusing to engage in any way with them. Additionally, parents who are providing for the physical needs of children but prioritizing other areas of their own lives can be considered to be neglectful.

Ultimately, when a caregiver or partner neglects to meet the needs of the other person, they are doing emotional harm. It is considered to be neglectful to fail to meet needs because there are general expectations associated with being a parent or being in a romantic relationship.

When you decide to become a parent or enter into a serious relationship, you are signing up for the responsibilities that come along with those things, and to be an active participant in the relationship. Failure to meet those responsibilities and expectations for care, whether that care is physical, emotional or financial, constitutes neglect.

Verbal Emotional Abuse

There are a number of ways in which someone can be verbally emotionally abusive. For example, a person may continually refuse to accept or consider your opinion and actually force you to accept their opinion. Another example might be a person who refuses to speak to you or interact with you in any way as a form of punishment or control.

People who always insist that they are right, those who have to have the last word, and those who judge you and others harshly, causing you to feel guilt and shame are also being emotionally abusive. Some methods of emotional abuse are more obvious than others.

It is the tactics being used that make these things examples of verbal emotional abuse. Verbal emotional abuse can have a significant impact on your self-worth and sense of uniqueness. A more surprising example of verbal emotional abuse is sarcasm. People are less likely to view sarcasm as emotional abuse since it’s common and many in our society see it as permissible as long as it’s funny.

However, when we stop to think about the sarcastic comments that we either make ourselves or receive from others, it becomes clear that sarcasm, regardless of humorous intent, can really hurt people’s feelings. Ultimately, sarcasm belittles others while masquerading as humor.

Verbal emotional abuse can take the form of a person who is always being prepared to preach to you about the faults and errors in the way that you live your life and attempting to control you. Even when this is done with good intentions, it lacks grace and understanding and doesn’t help you resolve issues.

Another common type of verbal emotional abuse is the person who insists that they have forgiven you for something – but then takes every possible opportunity to bring up the past grievances so as to shame you and make you feel guilty. At the heart of all these examples of verbal emotional abuse is the use of language to control and belittle others.

Emotional Abuse Via Behavior

While physical abuse generally tends to be also emotionally abusive, emotional abuse is not necessarily physical. There are different ways in which emotional abuse can take place through actions and behaviors. For example, people who intimidate others and incite fear as a means of control are being emotionally abusive.

People with unpredictable moods that tend to swing from extremes can be considered to be emotionally abusive since the people around them often struggle to feel safe. A more extreme example might be the Jekyll and Hyde personality – people who have a charismatic public ‘side’ to their personality but are very different (and emotionally abusive) at home. It’s hard to know where you stand with both of these types of people.

Favoritism is another means by which a person can be behaviorally abusive. Favoritism is where a person has a ‘favorite’ and uses their favorite as a measure for other people’s accomplishments. Favoritism has a profound impact on someone’s self-esteem and self-worth.

In family situations, favoritism is a common problem. Another family-related example of behavioral emotional abuse is role-reversal, where parents expect their children to assume a parental role while the parent takes on the role of a child.

A severe example of role reversal is emotional or covert incest, which was identified by Dr. Kenneth Adams in the book Silently Seduced. This happens when a parent who feels neglected by the other parent uses the children as substitutes for their partner.

This type of emotional abuse can have profound and long-lasting negative effects on children – and the dysfunction may continue well into adulthood. Christian counsellors are often consulted by people who are concerned by the unhealthy relationship that their spouse has with a parent, and which consequently is affecting the marital relationship.

People who constantly make promises that turn out to be empty may also be considered to be guilty of emotional abuse. Empty promises result in a loss of security and trust and may impact on the victim’s ability to experience hope. That’s because when you experience constant disappointment, you can begin to question whether good things will ever happen.

The Effects of Emotional Abuse on Relationships

Now that you understand more about the types of emotional abuse and their signs, we need to consider how emotional abuse impacts people’s lives.

If you’ve been the victim of emotional abuse at some point in your life, you may find that you struggle with intimate relationships. This is because emotional abuse tells us that other people are not emotionally safe, and as a defense mechanism you may distance yourself from others or avoid being in any way vulnerable around people.

Another example of the impact of emotional abuse is known as co-dependency. This leads to people continually seeking validation and approval from their significant others. Their entire sense of self-worth is dependent upon another person – this is often the result of emotional neglect in childhood.

Enabling behaviors can also be caused by emotional abuse in the past. For example, someone who has a history of being emotionally abused will enable other people to behave in ways that are unhealthy or inappropriate just in order to feel needed or wanted. Often, people who come to therapy because of their engagement in abusive relationships have received a message in the past that they deserve to be abused.

People who isolate themselves completely from others have frequently been the victim of emotional abuse. On the other end of that spectrum, victims of emotional abuse may also crave relationships (due to neglect in the past) to such an extent that they will endure anything, and do anything that they’re asked to do, perhaps to avoid abandonment.

What Does the Bible Have to Say About Emotional Abuse?

Although the Bible does not specifically address emotional abuse by name, there are plenty of examples in Scripture of God’s view of emotional abuse:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. – Ephesians 5:1-4

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

He who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment. A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in airing his opinions. With a wicked man comes contempt as well, and shame is accompanied by disgrace. The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. A fool’s lips bring strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. A gossip’s words are like choice morsels, and they sink into the inmost being. – Proverbs 18:1-4 & 6-8

It is clear from these verses that God is particularly concerned with the way that we interact with others, and how we use our speech and the intentions within our hearts as part of our daily interactions. There is much wisdom to be gleaned about emotional abuse from these verses.

Many people experience emotional abuse and suffer the long-term effects in their lives. However, it is possible to heal from the impact of emotional abuse, and a San Diego Christian counselor can help you start your journey towards healing.

A Christian counselor can give you the tools that you need to challenge the distorted beliefs that result from emotionally abusive relationships. Working together, it is then possible to build a much healthier belief system and develop your sense of identity.

It is an unfortunate truth that hurt people hurt people. When you have been hurt or broken by past abuse, it can lead to long-term problems not only for you but for the significant others in your lives. You can hurt people without intending to when you have distorted beliefs about what is, and isn’t, acceptable.

The emotional abuse that you experienced was not your fault, and you did not deserve it, but it’s important that you seek help in order to heal from the effects – both for your emotional wellbeing and for the wellbeing of your loved ones. Reach out now so that you can begin the process of change.

Photos
“Downcast,” courtesy of Avenue G, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Victim”, Courtesy of Zach Guinta, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blindfolded”, Courtesy of Oscar Keys, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Open Bible”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License